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Proviso Probe

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

state tries to help veterans exposed to toxins

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office issued a press release about a bill he signed (sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora).

The bill is intended to help veterans exposed to toxic materials, especially deplete uranium.
SB 597 creates the National Guard Veterans Exposure to Hazardous Materials Act. The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs will assist veterans and members of the Illinois National Guard who may have been exposed to depleted uranium while serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, or the Persian Gulf in finding information on federal treatment services, including health screening tests for exposure to depleted uranium.

Ideally the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs would help every Illinois veteran navigate the VA bureaucracy.

I get quite angry when I think about the story Ray Parrish, a veterans counselor, told me. Ray explained that the VA denies people with mental health issues disability claims knowing the veterans lack the skills to go through the appeals process. So, I hope that the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs will be expanded to help almost all veterans deal with the obstacles put in our way when applying for benefits.
SB 597 also establishes a task force within IDVA to study the health risks of exposure to hazardous materials, including depleted uranium. The task force will consist of a representative from the Adjutant General’s office, IDVA, and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), eight members of the General Assembly, two veterans with knowledge of hazardous materials exposure, and four physicians or scientists with knowledge of the health effects of hazardous materials exposure. Appointments to the task force will be made within 30 days and the task force’s first meeting will be held within the next 60 days.

It sounds like part of this bill is having the state of Illinois pay for what the federal government already should be doing, but probably isn't.

I guess I'm a little concerned that this task force will be one more way to give the politically connected paychecks without having to be accountable for producing any results.

And, I'd feel better if there were some method to making sure Illinois' work on this wasn't redundant with other states.

And then there's the issue that Blagojevich and the legislature have screwed-up the public transportation legislation which is a core function for state government. It's not like they can make-up for the transportation screw-up by ameliorating the federal governments screw-ups on veterans issues.

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